Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Spatial Agent-Based Model (ABM) Simulations for Sustainable Development




Cioffi-Revilla, Claudio
Roger, J. Daniel
Hailegiorgis, Atesmachew

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Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)


In recent years the interdisciplinary field of Computational Social Science has developed theory and methodologies for building spatial Agent-Based Social Simulation (ABSS) models of human societies that are situated in ecosystems with land cover and climate. This article explains the needs and demand for Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in these types of agent-based models, with an emphasis on models applied to Eastern Africa and Inner Asia and relevance for understanding and analyzing development issues. The models are implemented with the MASON (Multi-Agent Simulator Of Networks and Neighborhoods) system, an open-source simulation environment in the Java language and suitable for developing ABSS models with GIS for representing spatial features.


Thanks to all our team members of the Mason-Smithsonian Joint Project on Inner Asia and the Mason-Yale Joint Project on Eastern Africa, as well as to Lee Schwartz, Melba Crawford, Paul Bartels, and members of the US State Department Humanitarian Information Unit for providing inspiration for this paper during the international conference on “Geospatial Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in Africa: Partnerships and Applications,” held at Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, May 28–29, 2009. We also thank Christina Bishop, Jai Alterman, and Justine Benanty for administrative and research assistance. The authors are solely responsible for the views expressed in this paper.


Simulation and modeling, Computing methodologies, Social and behavioral sciences, Sustainable development, Geographic information systems


Claudio Cioffi-Revilla, J. Daniel Rogers, and Atesmachew Hailegiorgis. 2011. Geographic Information Systems and Spatial Agent-Based Model Simulations for Sustainable Development. ACM Trans. Intell. Syst. Technol. 3, 1, Article 10 (October 2011), 11 pages. DOI=10.1145/2036264.2036274